On March 22, 1955, a U.S. Navy R6D-1 Liftmaster transport on descent to a landing in darkness and heavy rain strayed off course and crashed into Pali Kea Peak in the southern part of Oahu’s Waianae Range, killing all 66 people on board. It remains the worse air disaster in Hawaii’s history.
On March 20, 1955, my wife, three kids and I left Travis Air Force Base, Calif., at 5:30 in the morning on my way to my next assignment, Hickam Field, Hawaii.
One of the plane’s engines failed before we got to the “point of no return”. We flew back to Travis Air Force Base. Early the next morning, March 21, 1955, my family and I, all worn out from the all-day flight the day before, were now headed for Hickam Field again.
March 21, 1955, the base had a place for us to stay for a couple of days while base personnel found out what to do with me. There were two printing departments on base. I found out later they were fighting over me. There was the base printing and Headquarters Pacific Division, Military Air Transport Service (MATS), and the Headquarters that I worked for the next 15 years won out.
From late night on March 22, 1955 after the crash for many days, I would be printing for the accident summary and investigative team.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)